Festivals of India: Tarnetar Fair, Gujarat

India is a diverse nation. Everyday people are celebrating something in various parts of this huge nation. We know about many religious and cultural festivals but have very basic (in many cases none) knowledge about the art themed fairs & festivals celebrated across the country along with some traditional religious festivals which are pulling many tourists now a days.

This specific Travel series of mine concentrates on the calendar of those festivals which every Indian should proudly attend and enjoy!

tarnetar umbrella
Local man with a colorful umbrella

When?

The fair is held for three days every year in August. The 2017 dates of the fair are 25th to 27th August. The 2018 dates are yet to be announced.

Where & How to Reach?

The Tarnetar Mela is also known as the Trinetreshwar Mahadev Mela. The mela or fair is organised in a village called Tarnetar in the town of Thangadh. Chotila is the nearest town or city center from Tarnetar which has ample options for accommodation. There are a few lodges and small scale hotels in Thangadh (8.2 km i.e. 17 minutes away from Tarnetar). But still I would recommend you to secure your stay in Chotila. Chotila is very well connected by roads to all the major cities in the state. The nearest railway station to Chotila is Than Junction, which is 23 km i.e. 35 minutes away from the destination. The nearest airport to the destination is Rajkot (45.1 km i.e. 50 minutes away).

Gujarat tourism also offers special packages and tented accommodation which you can review on their official website.

Tarnetar- chotila map
Tarnetar-Chotila
fair 1
The entrance gate for the fair
temple
The Trinetreshwar Mahadev Temple

What is it?

The fair is held at the grounds of the Trinetreshwar Mahadev Temple. The festival and the mela are celebrated together as a ceremony of the wedding of Mahabharata characters Arjun and Draupadi. According to numerous mythological tales, Draupadi swayamvar took place in Tarnetar. This was the location where young Pandav Prince Arjun won Draupadi by piercing the eye of a fish in the pond. The tradition of holding such a swayamvar continues here even today. Unmarried men and women from tribal communities visit the fair looking for a prospective match. According to the customs the men stand under embroidered umbrellas looking for a bride while the women go around with an umbrella looking for a groom. The single women wear red zimi (skirt) and married women wear black zimi. The bachelor men wear colourful dhotis, artistically designed waistcoats and a Pagadi (head-cloth twisted at an angle).

This vibrant mela opens you to the colorful and vibrant Gujarati culture.  Women wearing colorful costumes perform folk dance to music and showing off their glittering jewelry. Rabari women of nearby Zalawad perform the famous circular folk dance called rahado. Nearly two hundred women perform rasadas (a famous traditional dance form) in a single circle, to the beats of four drums at a time and the tunes of jodia pavas (double flutes). You can also enjoy a cattle exhibition in the fair. The villagers also organize Rural Olympics along with bullock cart and horse race. The colorful umbrellas are also one of the main attractions of the fair. Many bhajan mandalis (groups who play religious music) attend the festival to entertain their audiences with their strong voices and special instruments. A large portion of mela covers shopping stalls for tourists. People sell coulorful umbrellas, ethnic jewelry and small statues of deities as well as traditional attires with tiny mirrors embroidered into the clothing.

The fair is attended by more than 50,000 people each year. Kolis, Rabaris, Bharwads, Khants, Kanbis, Kathis, Charans, the Harijans and the Desh-rabaris participate in this fair in huge numbers.

Around the destination

Kutch is 303 km away from Chotila. If you are visiting the fair, I will surely advice you to visit Kutch along.

 

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Festivals of India: Kerala Boat Race

India is a diverse nation. Everyday people are celebrating something in various parts of this huge nation. We know about many religious and cultural festivals but have very basic (in many cases none) knowledge about the art themed fairs & festivals celebrated across the country along with some traditional religious festivals which are pulling many tourists now a days.

This specific Travel series of mine concentrates on the calendar of those festivals which every Indian should proudly attend and enjoy!

boat race 5
The famous snake boat

When?

There are many boat races in Kerala like Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Neerettupuram Boat Race, Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race, Pulimkunnu Boat Race, Karuvatta Boat Race, Haripad Boat Race, Mannar Boat Race etc. that take place in the waters of Kerala each year during August & September. But the Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alapuzzha is the most famous, biggest and oldest boat racing competition in Kerala. It is the one which you should not miss. It’s also one of its kinds in the world. It’s held on the 2nd Saturday of every August. The race will take place on 12th August in 2017 and on 11th August in 2018.

 

boat race 4
The Trophies

Where & How To Reach?

The boat race takes place on the Punnamada Lake near Alapuzzha. The race courses are 1370 meters in length. From Alapuzzha tourists and locals (who are ticket holders) are taken to the destination by jetty. The last jetty leaves at 11 am.  Tourists are expected to take their seats in the pavilion by 12 noon. The Punnamada Lake jetty point is just 11 minutes away from Alapuzzha city center. The ticket prizes ranges according to the pavilion you choose to sit in. You can book the tickets on book my show, on their website as well as at the venue itself. But it’s always safe to book the tickets in advance if you want good seats. You can carry your own food and water to the race but make sure your bag isn’t too heavy.

Sr. No Categories of Tickets Rate
1 Tourist Gold (Admit 1) Rs. 2500/-
2 Tourist Silver (Admit 1) Rs. 1500/-
3 Rose Corner (Admit 2) Rs. 750/-
4 Rose Corner (Admit 1) Rs. 450/-
5 Victory Line (Admit 1 Rs. 300/-
6 All View (Admit 1) Rs. 230/-
7 Lake View (Admit 1) Rs. 150/-
8 Lawn (Admit 1) Rs. 100/-
Alappuzha to Punnamada
From Alapuzzha to Punnamada Lake
route map
The Destination Map

What Is It?

The Kali-Vallangal i.e. racing boats are a spectacular sport to watch. Around 100s of people row the sleek snake boats through the water in a synchronized manner. Even a little mistake by a single person can be harmful for the whole team. The participants go through riggers sessions of diet and practice for the whole year to win this competition. It was first started when the then prime minister of India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru visited the area in 1952. He was so impressed by the snake boats that he donated the silver trophy and thus began the racing game. Watching hundreds of oars held by strong boatmen, working with the rhythm of water, the drums and songs is mesmerizing. Every year nearly 2 lakh people attend this event from across the globe. It’s also known as Kerala’s F1 races.

 

Where To Stay & Other Activities

Alapuzzha is famous for it’s backwaters. There are many luxury hotels, home-stays in and around the city. One can also rent a houseboat to stay in. Air BnB offers amazing deals on their app and website for the roof in Alapuzzha. August is the best season to visit the city and enjoy the scenic views.

You can read more about the same on their official website:

http://nehrutrophy.nic.in/pages-en-IN/default.aspx

 

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Festivals of India: Hemis Festival

India is a diverse nation. Everyday people are celebrating something in various parts of this huge nation. We know about many religious and cultural festivals but have very basic (in many cases none) knowledge about the art themed fairs & festivals celebrated across the country along with some traditional religious festivals which are pulling many tourists now a days.

This specific Travel series of mine concentrates on the calendar of those festivals which every Indian should proudly attend and enjoy!

Statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava)
Statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava)

When?

Every year this festival takes place in June or July. The two day celebration takes place on the 10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month. 2017 dates of the festival are 3rd and 4th July. 2018 dates of the festival are 23rd and 24th June. You can visit and stay in the region from May to September as it’s considered as the time of pleasant and sustainable weather.

Where?

Hemis Monastery is in the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir. The largest monastery of Ladakh is just 45 km away from Leh. The official address is ‘Leh, Jammu & Kashmir, 194201’.

There are plenty of luxury hotels, home stays and resorts around the monastery. The monastery itself offers rooms to live for tourists. The festival is attended by locals as well as by tourists around the world. I would suggest you to pre-book a room around monastery to avoid the search for a roof after getting there. There are also many restaurants around the monastery which offer local and other Indian (especially North Indian) food. Even the monastery serves delicious food to its tourists along with traditional Butter Tea.

What is it exactly?

Hemis Monastery is considered as the wealthiest monastery in India. The festival is celebrated on the occasion of the birth of Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Padmasambhava is considered as a representative reincarnate of Buddha. In the festival the Chamms Lamas perform masked dance and sacred plays. The performances are glorified with cymbals, drums and long horns. Lamas dress in colorful brocades and masked attire while they perform the dance. The dance is supposed to be the symbol where of good defeating the evil, in other words Gods defeating the Demons. The dance drama is enhanced with different Mudras used by the dancers during their performances. The performers often use the masks representing different divinities of religious or historical importance.

The main festival activities take place in the rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery. The space is wide and open. There are two raised square platforms, three feet high with a sacred pole in the center. The raised dais is decorated with richly cushioned seats. There is also a finely painted small Tibetan table with the ceremonial items on it which include – cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense sticks. The ceremonies begin with an early morning ritual atop the Gompa where, to the beat of drums and the resounding clash of cymbals and the spiritual wail of pipes, the portrait of “Dadmokarpo” or “Rygyalsras Rinpoche” is then ceremoniously put on display for all to admire and worship. It’s amazing to see the local people gathering around in their traditional attire to enjoy the festival.

How to reach?

The easiest way to reach the monastery is by road from Leh. The road is beautiful and scenic. You can book a ride from Leh which is just 50 minutes away from your destination. On regular days monastery is open from 8am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm. The entry fee is 100Rs. per person.

Hemis 4
The route map from Leh to Hemis Monastery

You can also plan a trek along with your visit to the monastery. There are number of treks you can do when you are in Ladakh. To decide which trek to take and other important details do visit the following site:

https://www.lehladakhindia.com/

 

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